Hirsutism refers to excessive growth of dark, thick and coarse hair in an individual (usually female) in a male pattern. Commonly affected areas are upper lips, chin, central chest, midline of the stomach, lower back, buttocks and front of thighs. Hirsutism affects approximately 10% of women in Western societies and is commoner in those of Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern descent.
If the excessive hair is generalised and not in a gender specific pattern, the term is ‘hypertrichosis’, which means increased (‘hyper’) hair (‘trichosis’). In this leaflet we will only discuss hirsutism.